The Congressional War on the Social Sciences

… The nation’s basic science policy, more or less secure for six decades, is being upended, a result of two converging congressional concerns. One is specific to the social sciences—are they real sciences? The second, and much broader, is congressional concern with impact, productivity, pay-off, performance—what justifies science’s claim on public funds? …

Asking the NSF, NIH, or the Census Bureau to provide persuasive rationales for their use of public funds is not itself a signal that the nation’s science policy is going off-track. But if the questions asked seriously misunderstand the basic workings of science, which is my claim, then the new science policy being shaped will derail a government-science partnership that has worked for more than a half-century. [cont.]

Kenneth Prewitt (Columbia U.), Pacific Standard